Thursday, December 25, 2008

28 Kislew 5769: Ḥanukkah, day 4/Christmas/National Pumpkin Pie Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day:

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Report details abuse of Christians”: Still Christians in Iraq are being treated horribly by their Muslim countrymen. Exactly why are we helping prop up a government which is not stopping this?
  2. About 3 years ago, I published on this blog a review by Barry of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This movie was broadcast on television last night, and I watched it. And so having now seen it myself, I would like to make some additional comments on it:
    1. Professor Digory Kirke’s epistemology for why Lucy should be believed about there being Narnia on the other side of the wardrobe is faulty. That Lucy is the sister of the other Pevensie children, she is not lying, and she is not mad is insufficient reason. The possibility that she is mistaken is not suggested. E.g., she could be mistaking a dream for reality or have hallucinated Narnia in the wardrobe. The obvious empirical test of going in the closet far enough and checking, even just to humor Lucy, is also not suggested.
    2. The producers screwed up on depicting Narnia as being freezing under the reign of the Jadis the White Witch. The Pevensie children walk around with their coats open, their ears and noses do not turn pink, and their exposed hands do not get numb or frostbitten. We do not see fog condensing out of anyone’s breath. (Now I feel an urge to watch The Empire Strikes Back to see if they did a better job depicting cold on the frozen planet of Hoth. Wait a minute... I think they filmed part of that portion of the movie in actual cold and snow.) Add to this that much of the computer-generated imagery looks fake.
    3. The White Witch’s outfits are not only padded to hide her figure, but they look even stranger than the impression Barry gave. Her hairdos are also hideous. So much for the cliché that villains have great fashion sense.
    4. Come to think of it, how is a near-Terran ecosystem supposed to survive 100 years of continuous winter?  Terran life is geared for an annual cycle of seasons.  While it is probable that some life would survive, one would expect many creatures to go extinct.  Beings adapted for life in permanently cold temperatures, such as polar bears and reindeer, might do OK, assuming an adequate food supply.  Temperate beings might have a harder time.  Beings with life cycles linked too closely to the seasons, such as non-polar bears, would probably go extinct quickly.  Plant survival could be a serious problem, though maybe evergreen trees might make it.  Plant reproduction, on the other hand, would be out of the question; I am not aware of any plant which flowers in the snow.
    5. Aslan claims that “deep magic” defines right and wrong. This would be the most creative way of defining morality of which I have ever heard.
    6. When Peter slays the wolf Maugrim, how come there is no blood?
    7. In defense of Edmund, he appears to be terrified and acting stupidly because of it. This may not be deep or noble, but it is human. At least he does repent his stupidity.
    8. In defense of Aslan and the White Witch, the ways of deities and angels are mysterious and may well be beyond human understanding. However, the ways of C. S. Lewis are entirely within the realm of human comprehension, and as the creator of Aslan and all Narnia, he could have done a better job of setting up his world so that the rules make more sense. At least some of the oddness of the plot reflects the fact that this is Christian fiction. Given that Aslan reflects Jesus and Jadis Satan, the absence of Aslan from Narnia for 100 years reflects that Jesus did not come into the world until well after creation, and the Sacrifice of Aslan comes off as an extremely dualistic variant on the Crucifixion. That Aslan willingly allowed himself to be sacrificed is only natural; Jesus allowed himself to be captured and crucified by Pontius Pilate, even though he knew in advance he was a wanted man and had the opportunity to flee. That such behavior is suicidal is of no consequence; people who behaved in such a way in real life have been made saints by the Church.
    9. I was under the impression that not all animals in Narnia were intelligent and able to speak. Perhaps it is the stupid, dumb animals which are eaten by the carnivores.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Science Cartoons Plus Christmas cartoons. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and have a happy Ḥanukkah or whatever holiday you are observing today.

Aaron
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